Why Try Enduro Racing?
The cool thing about enduro is it’s appeal to every rider. This type of racing is equally challenging for the seasoned cross country racer to the skills focused enthusiast. You can use these events to boost fitness, skills, confidence, and endurance. Common questions we hear at the shop are: What is enduro mountain biking, and how does a race work? What terrain is the courses on? What kind of bike should I ride? Where can I try a race?
How Does Enduro Work?
Enduro mountain bike racing is essentially a big day or days spent riding between multiple timed, predominantly downhill stages. As you ride between stages, known as transfers you can treat it like a group ride with friends if you like. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than your traditional cross country hammer fest, so grab a buddy and try one this summer!
Race formats vary, but the most common races follow a route in which riders must finish transfer/liaison stages within a certain amount of time in order to arrive at a series of timed stages. Depending on the race shuttles or lifts may be part of the event, but it is best not to plan for it. You never know how remote of a location you’ll end up scaling your bike too, often times there may be no access for help out besides your two legs. Most races last one or two days in length.
If you’d like to try a race locally check out the WV Enduro Series. There are plenty of pre-rides for stages hosted on the weekends prior to the race. You can check out the WEST VIRGINIA ENDURO SERIES page for updates of individual events. Volunteers often run shuttles to help you get as many practice runs as possible. The goal is to get people out to ride their bikes, have fun, and shred some gnar. At some pro events sometimes no practice is allowed (blind racing), or minimal practice is enabled.
Enduro’s start in a couple different formats. At most riders leave as a pack pedaling together to the first timed segment referred to as a stage. Stages are then timed individually, in the same way that a downhill race is timed. Times from each stage are added up after the day or days of racing to determine a winner. Times riding between transfers do not count to your race time since only stages are added up.
In most races, riders must use the same frame, fork and wheels throughout the race and they're not allowed outside assistance (either for mechanical support, strategy or food supplies) except at designated times and zones during the event. This puts a focus on a rider’s ability to prepare and sustain themselves for a day out on the bike, as well as defining the sturdy all-rounder mountain bikes most people ride today.
How did enduro MTB racing start?
Multi-stage downhill-biased events have taken place throughout mountain biking’s history, but enduro racing, as we now know it, is often cited as starting in France. In 2003, Fred Glo (now one of the Enduro World Series organizers) and his team held the first Tribe 10000 event in Val d’Allos; soon after that a national enduro series was formed. The French series was later joined by the Superenduro series in Italy, which took a new direction in allowing practice of the stages and most uphill liaisons being pedal power only.
Reference: Enduro World Series
What do the enduro race courses look like?
Enduro race stages are predominantly downhill, often on raw, natural terrain. They vary from short sprints to extreme physical tests. Stages can be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the race location. From rocks to tree roots, flat-out fast to tricky technical, an enduro race can – and often does – comprise just about every element of mountain biking.
An enduro race can happen anywhere, but events generally take place in mountainous areas. This means tough uphill pedals during the transfers and, depending on the organizer, sometimes these connections are tougher than others. The organizer sets the amount of time riders have in which to make it from one stage to the next, and if they take longer (thus missing their start time), they are penalized.
What kind of bike do I ride?
We did our first enduro’s on hardtails and 100mm travel xc bikes, so the answer would be you can try the races on any bike. See our friend Nick Fischer pictured below doing his first enduro on a fat bike, case and point, do not feel like you need to buy a new bike just to get out there. All of the stages at our local WV series include a go around line, so skip the scary stuff if you want. For comfort, stability, and the best riding experience we would recommend at least 150mm of travel for shredding the gnar.
Bikes we have in the shop you can demo include:
Rentals are for pick up on Fridays and drop off on Tuesday. Cost is $100. Call or email to reserve. For more questions about getting into enduro or trying a bigger travel bike drop us a line. You’ll find a great community out there in enduro land we promise!